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Mitch Rossell

Country singer/songwriter Mitch Rossell, a Silverdale Baptist Academy graduate, uses a baseball analogy to describe the advice that he has gotten from superstar Garth Brooks on how to handle life in the big leagues.

"He says to slow it all down," Rossell says.

"It's like in the Jackie Robinson movie when he says you have to slow the pitch down to hit it. It's really hard to decipher what is real and what is going to fade. Like when the media asks a question, you have to slow down and think about it.

"The other thing he says, and it's so simple, but it means a lot coming from him, is to be yourself."

Any advice coming from Brooks is noteworthy, and Rossell understands that. Brooks is in that Beatles, Michael Jackson and Elvis Presley star stratosphere, and Rossell has been lucky enough to be invited into it. He and Brooks have been writing songs together for almost four years, and Brooks has invited Rossell to perform with him and to open shows for him lately.

Rossell keeps his own schedule of shows as well and was announced earlier this week as a Riverbend Festival performer, playing the Unum Stage on June 10.

Rossell wrote "Ask Me How I Know," which just so happens to have become the first No. 1 single for Brooks in a decade. They performed the song together for the Country Music Association awards show earlier this month.

While it was a thrill for Rossell, he also got to see the unseemly side of being in the spotlight. Brooks was taken to task in some circles for lip-syncing the hit song. Rossell says it was a non-issue that some in the media tried to make into something.

"I don't understand it. No offense to anybody in journalism, but Garth never tried to hide it. He said beforehand he was going to do it. The guy kills himself for his fans every night. Everything he does is for those people in the seats.

"He is the most kind, empathetic, honest, passionate person. He'd done 12 shows in 10 days, so that's three hours of screaming, singing, running, jumping and entertaining. Twice in one day sometimes. He has nothing to prove."

For Rossell, watching his song rise to No. 1 is meaningful for a lot of reasons. People do tend to return his calls now, he says with a laugh, for example, but almost as importantly, he has stuck to his guns since moving to Nashville. While some wanted him to conform to the latest songwriting trends, he has been determined to write songs that reflect who he is.

"The personal satisfaction is very meaningful," he says. "That feeling that despite what is going on in this town, I've stayed true to myself."

Contact Barry Courter at bcourter@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6354.

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